Lahore “City of Literature”

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There is a popular adage ” Jisne Lahore nahi dekha woh janma hi nahin ”

شہِر الہور تری رونقیں دائم آباد 

تیری گلیوں كی ہوا كھینچ كے الئی مجھ كو  

(shehr e Lahore teri ronaqaiN daaem aabaad 

teri galioN ki hawa khainch laee mujh ko)

O city of Lahore! May your splendor be forever…

The winds of your streets have pulled me towards you.


الہور را بہ جان برابر خریدہ ایم  

جاں دادہ ایم و جن ِت دیگر خریدہ ایم

(Lahore ra be jaan barabar khareedeh eem 

jaan dadeh eem o Jannat e deegar khareedeh eem)

Lahore, we have bought in exchange for our lives. 

We have given our lives for a new heaven. 


Abdul Qadir Hassan comments that Lahore was not only a city of kings, but it was a city of saints  too. Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal and Faiz Ahmad Faiz, both moved to Lahore to be buried here.  Same goes for Noor Jehan who is buried near River Ravi.

Krishan Chandar, a very famous short story writer was from Lahore. Educated in FC  College, he had to move to India post partition. He could never get out of the trauma of this forced  exile. He talks of Lahore as one talks about one’s long-lost love. He would look at people coming  from Lahore with a sheer sense of missing out. He would lament and ask for the nitty gritty details  of the changes in Lahore’s streets, buildings, parks, and markets. In a letter to Ahmad Nadeem  Qasmi, Krishan Chandar writes that my eyes get wet while thinking of Lahore.

Rajinder Singh Bedi, who began his writing career as “Mohsin Lahore” would cry often  while remembering Lahore.

A Hameed, who stayed in Burma, would call Lahore his Janam Bhoomi rather than  Amritsar. He writes in his books Lahore ki Yadain (Memories of Lahore):

Lahore’s name is a portal for a plethora of mysteries and enchantments. The name itself  has a mystery and magic to it. I think Lahore is not just a city but a state of being. It seeps  into the heart while strolling the half-lit streets of this city. Once it conquers, one feels that  the soul belonged to this city since ever and this is a never-ending relation.

Syed Ahmad Patras Bukhari was also a true lover of Lahore. He wrote a letter to Sufi  Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum from New York, asking whether “River Ravi still sighs in memory of  the Mughals.”

This city captivates her lovers in such a manner that they never find peace elsewhere. Many  great writers like Jamnadaas Akhtar, Gopal Mittal and Pran Neville migrated from Lahore post  partition but Lahore never left their hearts. Famous poetess Shabnam Shakeel laments Lahore:

الہور پیچھے رہ گیا ہم باوفا مگر 

اس شہِر بےمثال سے آگے نہیں گئے 

(Lahore peechay reh gaya ham ba-wafa magar 

Is shehr e be-misaal se aagay nahin gae) 

Lahore stayed behind, but we the loyal ones 

Did not go beyond this unmatched city 

Shohrat Bokhari pours his heart out for Lahore in his famous distich:

طو ِر سینا ہو كہ الہور كی گلیاں شہرت 

حسن ہر رنگ گریزاں ہے خبردار رہو 

(Toor e sina ho keh Lahore ki galliaN Shohrat 

Husn har rang gurezaaN hai, khabardar raho) 

Be it Mount of Sina or streets of Lahore 

Beauty in every form is reluctant, beware.

Indian film actors Praan, Om Prakash, Dev Anand, Yash Chopra and the novelist Bapsi  Sidhwa would constantly remember the gatherings of Lahore. It would not be wrong to call Lahore  a state of ecstasy. Lahore is a femme fatale for whoever has been forced in to exile out of her, they  would lament it like Romeo would lament Juliet. Although Lahore is a city crowded with parks,  colleges, inns, dreams etc., but her love for all the incomers and migrants is her greatest attribute.  People who came to learn became the learned. Lahore cared for Mevlana Azad, for the Iqbal of  Sialkot. Gave a standing to the matriculation failed Saadat Hassan Manto and Faiz Ahmad Faiz.  Ahmad Shah lived here as Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi and a deserted migrant as Intezar Hussain.  Anbala’s Nasir Riaz became Nasir Kazmi here and Montgomery’s Muhammad Muneer was known as Muneer Niazi. Meaning thereby that Dilawar Ali became Meerza Adeeb, Sher Muhammad  became Ibn e Insha, Qudsia Chattha became Banu Qudsia, Muhammad Akhtar became Saghar  Siddique, Malik Wasif became Wasif Ali Wasif, Abdul Haee became Sahir Ludhianvi, Aurangzeb  Khan became Qateel Shifai, Allah Wasai became Noor Jahan, Raghupati Sahaye became Firaaq  Gorakhpoori and Ghulam Mustafa became Sufii Tabassum, all thanks to the charismas of this city.  These and many others, like Mavlana Zafara Ali Khan, Hameed Ahmad Khan, Hafeez Jalandhari,  Mavlana Salahuddin Ahmad, Ustaad Daman, Krishan Chandar, Fikr Tonsvi, Kanhaia Laal Kapoor,  Ehsaan Danish, Ishfaq Ahmad, Mustansar Hussain Tarar, Habib Jalib, and Khursheed Rizvi, whose  intellectual and literary greatness is owed to the blessings of this city. This is why UNESCO rightly  named Lahore the “City of Literature.”

In 1959, British archaeologists excavated four thousand years old mud cutlery. Similarly,  in Muhalla Mulian, 2900-year-old2900 years old artifacts were found. It is the same era when the Harappan  Civilization was dying which suggests that Lahore is as old and ancient as the city of Harrapa.


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